Ex-pilot fired gun in direc­tion of men

Man de­nied firearm charges

Evening Express (Extra Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Mark Davies

A MAN has been found guilty of reck­lessly shoot­ing a ri­fle in the direc­tion of a group of hun­ters.

Michael Suther­land, 38, de­nied fir­ing his weapon in the direc­tion of an Ir­ish hunt­ing party on Oc­to­ber 26, 2009.

The ex-RAF pilot claimed he had no knowl­edge of the pres­ence of the hun­ters and was shoot­ing rab­bits on his farm.

But at a sher­iff and jury trial at Aberdeen Sher­iff Court, a jury of nine women and six men took less than two hours to reach a ma­jor­ity ver­dict of guilty on the charge of putting eight men at risk of in­jury or death by cul­pa­bly or reck­lessly fir­ing a ri­fle in their direc­tion.

Sher­iff Ken­neth Ste­wart also granted a mo­tion put for­ward by the Crown for the for­fei­ture of Suther­land’s high-pow­ered .243 ri­fle and live am­mu­ni­tion.

De­fence Agent Ian Duguid told the court Suther­land had no in­ten­tion of keep­ing any guns in fu­ture and would not be re-ap­ply­ing for a firearms cer­tifi­cate.

The court had heard how eight Ir­ish men joined a geese shoot in a field next to Suther­land’s farm in New­burgh when he started shoot­ing in their direc­tion.

One of the men told the court how he packed dead geese around his body to pro­tect him­self from fly­ing bul­lets.

The court also heard how Suther­land ad­mit­ted to po­lice of­fi­cers he was “in a bit of trou­ble” when they ar­rested him, but he de­nied this in court.

Suther­land was re­ported as say­ing: “I should have com­plained about them a while ago. It’s my word against theirs and there’s a lot of them. I’m in a bit of trou­ble.”

Suther­land main­tained he was shoot­ing rab­bits on his land, and had no idea the hun­ters were there. He said: “I took all rea­son­able pre­cau­tion to make sure there was a safe area to shoot.”

But the jury dis­agreed and Suther­land was found guilty.

Sen­tence was de­ferred un­til April 21 for re­ports.

Suther­land pleaded guilty to a sep­a­rate charge of pos­sess­ing more rounds of am­mu­ni­tion than were cov­ered by his firearms li­cence at his ad­dress, which was given in court as The New Farm­house, Hill­head of Foveran, New­burgh.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.